difference between record and album of the year
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What the Heck Is the Difference Between Grammy's Record of the Year and Album of the Year?

Abi Travis - Author

Apr. 22 2020, Updated 2:32 p.m. ET

It’s officially Grammys season! The 62nd Grammy Award Nominees were just announced, and people are already trying to predict the winners (and losers) of each category. As you scroll through the list of nominees, you might notice something interesting. There are Grammy awards for both Record of the Year and Album of the Year. So, what’s the difference between Record and Album of the Year?

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What's the difference between record and album of the year? First, let’s talk about the Grammy for Album of the Year.

According to the Grammy Award website, the Album of the Year award is given to “Artist(s) and to Featured Artist(s), Songwriter(s) of new material, Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s), Mixer(s) and Mastering Engineer(s) credited with at least 33 percent playing time of the album, if other than Artist.”

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That might look a little confusing, so let’s first break down how the award academy defines an album. According to the Recording Academy official awards department guidelines, in order to be called an album, a recording must contain at least five different tracks and have a total playing time of at least 15 minutes, or have a total playing time of at least 30 minutes with no minimum track requirement. (In other words, an album can be just one track as long as it lasts for at least 30 minutes.)

Naturally, only full albums are considered for the Album of the Year award. Here are this year’s nominees:

  • I, I — Bon Iver
  • Norman F--king Rockwell! — Lana Del Rey
  • When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? — Billie Eilish
  • Thank U, Next — Ariana Grande
  • I Used to Know Her — H.E.R.
  • 7 — Lil Nas X
  • Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)  — Lizzo
  • Father of the Bride — Vampire Weekend
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    Now let’s look at the Grammy for Record of the Year.

    While the Album of the Year award considers an entire album, the Record of the Year award considers only a single track. The award is given to “the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s) and mastering engineer(s), if other than the artist.” 

    record of the year album of the year difference grammy
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    The difference between record and album of the year is a little confusing, but it all comes down to history. Initially, a “record” referred to a single vinyl disc that contained two tracks: an A-side and a B-side. Later, when long-playing records came around, the rotation speed was slower (33 ⅓ revolutions per minute), and the vinyl disc could hold more music — in other words, an entire album.

    Here are this year’s nominees for Record of the Year:

  • “Hey, Ma” — Bon Iver
  • “Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish
  • “7 Rings” — Ariana Grande
  • “Hard Place” — H.E.R.
  • “Talk” — Khalid
  • “Old Town Road” — Lil Nas X
  • “Truth Hurts” — Lizzo
  • “Sunflower” — Post Malone & Swae Lee
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    So then, what about Song of the Year?

    Just when you thought you finally had a handle on the difference between the Record and Album of the Year awards, there’s also the Song of the Year award to consider. Just like the Record of the Year award, Song of the Year is awarded to a single track. The main difference is that the Record of the Year award goes to one specific recording of that track, and Song of the Year considers the composition of the song as a whole and goes to the songwriters.

    record of the year album of the year difference
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    Here are this year’s nominees for Song of the Year:

  • “Always Remember Us This Way” — Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey & Lori McKenna
  • “Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish O'Connell & Finneas O'Connell
  • “Bring My Flowers Now” — Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth & Tanya Tucker
  • “Hard Place” — Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris, H.E.R. & Rodney Jerkins
  • “Lover” — Taylor Swift
  • “Norman F--king Rockwell” — Jack Antonoff & Lana Del Rey
  • “Someone You Loved” — Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pete Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn & Sam Roman
  • “Truth Hurts” — Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson & Jesse Saint John
  • Whew! That’s obviously a lot of info, but now that you know, you can impress your friends with all of your Grammy knowledge! 

    The Grammy Awards will air Jan. 26 on CBS.

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